Here's a list of recent Baptist PhD's undertaken in the UK (and in one case Ireland). They show a range of areas of research.
Ben Dare (2012) Foundations of ‘Ecological Reformation’: a critical study of Jürgen Moltmann’s contributions towards a ‘New Theological Architecture’ for environment care. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
Jürgen Moltmann’s desire to see the relationship between humans and our natural environment improve is long-standing. In later years he called for a ‘new theological architecture’ to help facilitate an ‘ecological reformation’ of Christianity and society. While Moltmann did not claim to have created this new architecture, one of his work’s aims has clearly been to contribute towards it. To what extent has Moltmann been successful in this aim? Firstly, his doctrine of the Trinity provides the themes of love and relatedness which pervade and colour his whole project. These themes then interact with other key areas of Moltmann’s thought that inform this architecture: creation, God’s ongoing care and openness towards creation (largely pneumatology and christology), and eschatology. Each of these areas contribute to a theological architecture in which non-human creation, past, present, and future, is a full recipient of God’s uniting love and openness. Naturally this leads towards a consideration of the ecological reformation. Less positively, Moltmann’s discussion of God’s creating through self-restriction presents some problems for this architecture’s coherence, although Moltmann’s developing views on this do help provide a solution. Furthermore, analysis of the criticisms made by various commentators suggests that several debated areas are actually particularly productive for Moltmann’s contributions to the architecture. Other criticisms do highlight areas of concern and possible development, but do not present terminal problems. The potential for this architecture to address practice, not simply theory, increases through elements of Moltmann’s theological anthropology that challenge humanity’s behaviour. Those elements thus form a lens through which Moltmann’s wider contributions to the architecture more powerfully speak of the need for creation care. Therefore, while Moltmann’s contribution towards a new architecture for ecological reformation would be helped by certain modifications, nevertheless it is highly significant. Its wide scope makes it fertile for further contributions and development.
Myra Blyth (2012) Towards a restorative hermeneutic: local Christian communities responding to crime and wrongdoing. PhD Thesis, University of Birmingham.
This study proposes a restorative hermeneutic and uses it to assess and evaluate the ‘restorativity’ of the responses of five local Christian communities to crime and wrongdoing. Its central contention is that they can become more ‘restorative’ by critically reflecting on their responses to crime and wrongdoing using the hermeneutic. In chapters I to III, the hermeneutic is established through a mutual critical dialogue between restorative justice and contemporary atonement theology. It has three core principles: ‘radical participation’, ‘righting wrong in a morally serious way’ and ‘reintegration’. These principles are extrapolated from a definition of restorative justice and resonate with the key themes of contemporary atonement theology. In chapters IV and V the understanding, attitude and practical response of these local Christian communities to crime and wrongdoing are categorised and assessed. The findings are then systematically evaluated using the restorative hermeneutic. The final chapter articulates the main conclusion, that to achieve a more restorative response to crime and wrongdoing local Christian communities need to develop a sustained critical dialogue with secularisation theory, an even balance between addressing personal and structural types of crime and wrongdoing, and a critical understanding of the underlying causes of crime and wrongdoing.
Michael Peat (2011) Affirming our human nature : a theological consideration of prenatal genetic modification. DPhil thesis, University of Oxford.
Sally Nelson (2011) Confronting ‘meaningless’ suffering: from suffering-as-insult to suffering-as-ontological-impertinence. DPhil thesis, University of Manchester.
From the personal contemporary pastoral experience of caring for dying people, and with particular attention given to the psychospiritual anguish often associated with the perceived failure of death, I argue that suffering is primarily identified in the modern West as an insult to normality, expressed in various forms of the question: ‘Why me?’. I challenge this view of ‘suffering as insult’ by selectively identifying and critiquing some culturally embedded views of the nature of reality, taking note of the influence on suffering persons of the dialogue between science and faith in the UK, and by introducing dialogue with the process thought of Whitehead as an alternative to traditional theistic models of God. Such a dialogue also affects the nature of the person conceived in imago dei, and so I examine the effect of replacing the rational autonomous individual with the dialogical personhood of McFadyen. I then consider the rehabilitation of suffering as a key experience of metanoia in the formation of the person. Finally I reflect on suffering in postmodernity in the light of Ricoeur’s hypothesis that reality is narrative in form, and develop the argument that suffering can be understood as an ‘ontological impertinence’, analogous to the ‘semantic impertinence’ which Ricoeur attributes to the category of metaphor.
Helen Dare (2013) Always on the way and in the fray: British Baptist hermeneutics in dialogue with Walter Brueggemann. PhD thesis, University of Bristol.
Four hundred years after their beginnings in Europe, Baptists are still proud of their reliance on scripture, which has been at the centre of their devotional life and the basis for their ethics and practice. Among British Baptists, however, sustained self reflection on the reception of the biblical text has been neglected, resulting in a lack of a framework for understanding and negotiating interpretative diversity within the community.
From a different perspective, and critical of ‘reductionist’ Old Testament study, Walter Brueggemann encourages the church and academy to dissent from a dominant interpretative hegemony no longer appropriate in a postmodern context. His work presents Baptists with an imaginative dialogue partner for considering their hermeneutics. His rhetorical and sociological criticism accentuates the dialectical aspect of the biblical text which he believes is crucial to Israel’s faith practice in dialogical relationship with God. In relation to a specific interpretative community, Brueggemann’s commitment to the ongoing interaction of sometimes conflicting testimonies stimulates the work of aspirational Baptist hermeneutics, which draws on, and develops, key Baptist themes of covenant and the ongoing search for further light and truth. The fruits of this reinvigorated approach are highlighted in an analysis of Psalm 22.
In developing Brueggemann’s analysis for the British Baptist context, a renaissance of the Baptist understanding of covenant relationships helps create a hermeneutical context in which Baptists may negotiate interpretative diversity constructively. A renewed commitment to Baptist covenantal understanding of discipleship as ‘walking together with God and with each other’ requires a willingness not to ‘close down’ the process of ongoing biblical interpretation in a desire for interpretative stability and certainty. Instead, a willingness to risk a dialogical openness to the voice of divine and human covenant partners, constitutes interpretation that is always ‘on the way and in the fray’.
Joshua Searle (2012) The Scarlet Woman and the Red Hand: Evangelical Interpretations of the Apocalypse in the Northern Ireland 'Troubles'. PhD thesis, Trinity College, Dublin.
This thesis provides a comprehensive description of how evangelicals in Northern Ireland read the ‘Troubles’ (1966-2007) in the light of how they read the Bible. This study demonstrates that biblical apocalyptic-eschatological language was a decisive presence (albeit often an inconspicuous and subtle presence) in evangelical/fundamentalist discourses concerning the turbulent events that characterised this dark yet fascinating period in the history of Northern Ireland. Like all cultural contexts in which apocalyptic themes retained a compelling contemporary relevance, the history of Northern Ireland during the late twentieth century manifested both the light and dark sides of apocalyptic eschatology. For some the biblical apocalyptic-eschatological texts engendered a sense of foreboding and insecurity, which manifested itself as cultural pessimism, social exclusion or sectarian violence. For others apocalyptic eschatology was interpreted as a vision of hope and a prototype of the redeemed community and, as such, was used to promote a core ethic of inclusive humanity and compassion in order to surmount the conventional distinctions between ‘Protestant’ and ‘Catholic’. If communities read the same texts, why is it that one community interprets the text as a justification to perpetrate exclusion, violence or even murder, whereas another interprets the same text as a stimulus to promote an inclusive ethic that enriches rather than narrows understanding? Rather than providing trite or superficial ‘closed’ answers to this question, this thesis aims to provoke thought by opening up creative new ways of conceptualising the relationship between hermeneutics and cultural studies.
Simon Woodman (2012) Baptist Hermeneutics and the Book of Revelation. PhD, Cardiff University.
E. Anne Clements (2012) Mothers on the margin?: an investigation into the five women of Matthew's geneaology and their significance, both as individuals and collectively, for the gospel narrative. PhD thesis, (Spurgeon's College) University of Wales.